Home & Yard A to Z
Signs your gutters are in need of repair Fall is a great time to tackle projects around the house. The weather each fall allows homeowners to make improvements to their homes’ exteriors without worrying about extreme heat or cold, while interior projects like painting are made easier because homeowners can open the windows to allow for proper ventilation. Fall also marks a great time to prepare for upcoming projects that can make winter work that much easier. For example, fall is a great time to take stock of your gutters so you can address any issues before leaves begin to fall or the first snowstorm touches down. Compromised gutters can contribute to water issues in basements and adversely affect a home’s foundation if not addressed immediately, so it behooves homeowners to learn the signs that gutters are in need of repair or replacement. • Gutters hanging off the home: Gutters were once installed predominantly with spikes. However, many industry professionals now install gutters with hanger brackets.Why the change? Spikes loosen over time, leading to the gutters hanging off the home.That can contribute to serious issues if left untreated. Gutters hanging off the home need not necessarily be replaced, but rather secured to the home, ideally with hanger brackets instead of spikes. Brackets hook into the front of the gutter and are then screwed into the fascia of a home. A professional who specializes in
gutter repair can perform this task relatively quickly, and it’s an inexpensive yet highly effective solution. • Gutter separation: Gutters that are no longer fastened together can leak and contribute to issues that affect the home’s foundation, siding and appearance. Clogs and the accumulation of debris can cause gutters to separate because they are not designed to hold too much weight. Replacement of separated gutters may or may not be necessary depending on how big the problem is and the condition of the existing gutters. If replacement is not necessary, separated gutters may be remedied by securing the joints, another relatively simple and inexpensive fix. • Peeling exterior paint: Paint that appears to be peeling off of your home may indicate that water is seeping over the edge of the gutter closest to your home. When that happens, water is coming down the side of the house, causing the paint to peel. In such instances, replacing the gutters is often necessary. • Basement flooding: Not all signs of deteriorating gutters are outside a home. Many a homeowner has been flummoxed by flooding in their basements, and such flooding can be caused by aging, ineffective gutters. That’s because deteriorating gutters sometimes allow water to leak near the foundation of a home, contributing to basement flooding. Fall is an ideal time to inspect gutters and have any issues fixed before leaves begin to fall or harsh winter weather arrives. It behooves homeowners to learn the signs that gutters are in need of repair or replacement.
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Home & Yard A to Z
The dangers of mowing too low • Cutting too low can injure the grass. Cutting grass too low can injure the grass, creating what’s essentially a domino effect of problems to come. Injured grass will focus on its recovery efforts, thereby making it vulnerable to other issues. • Cutting too low promotes weed growth. Injured grass is vulnerable to invaders, including weeds and insects. Weeds and insects can attack grass as it recovers from injury, and before homeowners know it, their lawns are overcome with a host of problems. • Cutting too low allows crabgrass to thrive. Crabgrass needs ample sunlight to grow. By cutting grass too low, homeowners may unknowingly be promoting crabgrass growth. Crabgrass is unsightly and can rob surrounding grass of the moisture it needs to grow. So lawns cut too low may not only lose their lush appeal thanks to the unattractive appearance of crabgrass, but also because areas surrounding the crabgrass patches might turn brown due to lack of water. • Cutting too low can stress the grass. Cutting too low also makes lawns vulnerable to summer heat. Without blades tall enough to block some of the summer sun, grass can quickly succumb to summer heat, leading to dried out, discolored lawns. Mowing grass too low can have a very adverse effect on a lawn.
5 tips to prepare for window replacement Winter is coming, and for millions of people who reside in areas of the country that see the mercury drop considerably between December and March, that means prioritizing staying warm. Inefficient or aging housing materials may compromise your ability to do just that. Drafts from doors, poorly protected attics and basements and aging windows may force heating systems to work extra hard to maintain interior temperatures. Replacing old windows can make a home quieter by blocking out exterior noises. Consumer Reports also notes that new windows are often easier to clean and maintain than older varieties.
Many homeowners are interested in replacing their windows, but may not know where to start. These guidelines can help the process along.
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1. Get several estimates. Ask for recommendations from neighbors or other people in your area on which companies they used to install their replacement windows. When you interview the prospects, ask several questions about how they go about installing the windows. Questions can include: • How long will the project take? • Will I need to remain home during the process? • Do you discard of old debris? • What is the protocol for installation during inclement weather? 2. Research permits. Most home renovation projects need to be approved by the local municipality. Go to the permit office and find out the requirements. Some window contractors will include securing permits in the cost of the project. After the project is completed, an inspector will come by and ensure the work was done according to code. 3. Change up the appearance. Look at the type of hardware you have around the home and other fixtures. Choose windows that have locks or latches that can match those features for continuity of style. Think about choosing a different style or frame color of the window, or a different type of window to improve efficiency and function. 4. Research top window manufacturers. It’s tempting to purchase windows based on price alone,but replacement windows are often a decision that only has to be made once or twice for the life of the home. Invest in durable windows that will have staying power. Consumer Reports offers unbiased reviews on various window brands and can help homeowners make sound decisions. 5. Prepare for installation. Clear pathways, remove window treatments and disconnect window alarm systems. Plan for one to two days of installation, advises Andersen Windows and Doors. Keep pets and children away from work areas. Replacement windows can be a smart investment. New windows can improve the look of a home, reduce heating costs and can keep interior spaces comfortable. Many homeowners are interested in replacing their windows, but may not know where to start.These guidelines can help the process along.
Home & Yard A to Z
Creating your own backyard oasis
making them a very versatile and efficient way to build pools.
(MS) — Our backyards are some of the best places to spend the summer months, especially if you’re practicing social distancing and are tired of being cooped up indoors. Fortunately, it’s possible to transform your outdoor living space into a secluded, open-air retreat.
Go wild with greenery. Live plants can help you feel connected with nature, and tending to them can help you feel relaxed yet productive during isolation. A vertical garden can add visual interest, while trees and shrubs can provide shade and character. Aromatic herbs like lavender or rosemary offer pleasant scents and can spice up your cooking. And don’t be afraid to cut some flowers from your garden to place in vases or pots for beautiful finishing touches. Find more information at nudura.com.
Bring the indoors out. We often hear about bringing the outdoors inside, but the reverse is also true when designing a luxurious extension of your home. Homey, lived-in touches can take your outdoor space from sterile and unfinished to cozy and inviting. Think patterned throw pillows, fluffy blankets for chilly evenings, outdoor rugs, colorful lanterns, and decorative accessories like painted terracotta pots or metal tins. Invest in comfy furniture. What’s the best part of your living or family room? Chances are it’s your comfortable couch or recliner. To recreate the same feeling, splurge on some soft furniture that will make you want to stay outside for hours reading a book or working remotely. It doesn’t have to break the bank either — you can DIY a cozy lounging bench with reclaimed wood and handsewn cushions with outdoor stuffing and fabric. Add a relaxing pool or spa.Water has a calming effect and is often linked to our favorite memories at the cottage or on vacation. A pool or spa can help transport you somewhere far away without leaving your home. A pool can help you and the kids get some exercise while swimming laps, while a spa can soothe tired muscles after a long day hunched over your laptop. To reduce energy costs and increase longevity, consider using Nudura insulated concrete forms, which provide superior insulation. ICF pools also can be custom-made to accommodate any design,
Our backyards are some of the best places to spend the summer months, especially if you’re practicing social distancing and are tired of being cooped up indoors. Fortunately, it’s possible to transform your outdoor living space into a secluded, open-air retreat.
How home design trends are evolving for social distancing (MS) — COVID-19 has brought changes to everything, and home design is no exception. Experts are expecting to see lasting impacts on everything from the materials we use to the rooms we prioritize. Check out these and other noteworthy trends: Houses over apartments: Many people who live in condos or apartments do so to be closer to the action — work, entertainment and shops — and never planned on spending much time at home. But the pandemic has changed that, and more people are going to want a home that offers plenty of room and outdoor space in case they need to self-isolate again. Self-sufficiency: A hard lesson we’ve learned is that things and services we thought we could count on aren’t necessarily a sure thing, so items that increase self-reliance will become very Continued on page 4
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Home & Yard A to Z
Continued from page 3 popular. Expect to see more homes with sources of energy like solar panels, sources of heat like fireplaces and stoves, and even urban and indoor gardens that allow you to grow your own produce. Outdoor living: Between playgrounds closing and parks becoming overcrowded, many of us are turning to our balconies, patios and backyards for fresh air and nature. This means we’re going to be investing more in our outdoor spaces, with functional kitchens, soothing water features, cozy firepits, and high-quality outdoor furniture to create a much-needed escape. Healthier spaces: Thanks to spending more time indoors and reprioritizing our health, we’ll turn to design to help ensure our homes are safe and healthy for our families. We’ll see a rise in products like water filtration systems as well as materials that improve indoor air quality. For new homes and additions, alternatives to wood-framing like insulated concrete forms from Nudura, which offer improved ventilation for healthier indoor air quality and an environment that’s less susceptible to mold, will be key. Home office space: Business experts are suggesting many companies will see that working from home is not only possible but offers tangible benefits, like saving money on office space rent. With working from home on the rise, creating a home office space that inspires productivity will be a major project many of us tackle. Luxury home office furniture that feels chic and blends into your décor as well as ergonomic chairs and desks will see a major boost. Custom and quality: With the hit to the economy, people are going to be buying less, but what they do buy will be better quality, while at the same time making an effort to support American businesses. When it comes to design, trends will shift to locally made furniture, custom-built homes and pieces and materials that stand the test of time. Find more information at nudura.com. COVID-19 has brought changes to everything, and home design is no exception. Experts are expecting to see lasting impacts on everything from the materials we use to the rooms we prioritize.
A lesson in building a backyard retaining wall Flat, even landscapes are often coveted in backyards. However, flat backyards are not always so easy to find. Fortunately, varied terrain does not mean that certain landscaping plans are entirely off limits, especially for homeowners willing to build retaining walls. Retaining walls help turn steep slopes in a yard into terraced focal points. They also can reduce soil erosion in hilly areas and can be used for aesthetic purposes, like raised planters, or to create more usable space within the yard. When an inground pool or pond is cut into a backyard hill, a retaining wall helps keep the remaining portion of that hill from collapsing into the cut-away area. Flat, even landscapes are often coveted in backyards. However, flat backyards are not always so easy to find. Fortunately, varied terrain does not mean that certain landscaping plans are entirely off limits, especially for homeowners willing to build retaining walls. Retaining walls help turn steep slopes in a yard into terraced focal
points. They also can reduce soil erosion in hilly areas and can be used for aesthetic purposes, like raised planters, or to create more usable space within the yard. When an inground pool or pond is cut into a backyard hill, a retaining wall helps keep the remaining portion of that hill from collapsing into the cut-away area. A crushed stone base will help anchor the courses and serve to promote drainage. The Family Handyman says to bury the first course of the retaining wall one-tenth the height of the wall to prevent soil behind it from pushing the bottom out. • Check for level. When placing blocks or timbers, make sure they are even with the first and periodically check for level as you go, advises the home improvement retailer Lowes®. • Stagger and set back. The next row of blocks or material should be positioned so that the joints are staggered for blocks, bricks or wood. A masonry blade will be needed to cut the harder materials; a circular saw will cut timber.Also, work against gravity by setting the second course slightly back from the first to help push back against the soil that is trying so hard to push forward. Repeat the process as each level is placed. Many retaining wall products are made with a lip to create this set back. • Go with the grade. For especially steep slopes, a gradual stepup design may be more secure and more appealing than a very tall retaining wall. Each level of a stepped design should be done like the first. • Backfill with stone for drainage. Using a layer of stone behind the retaining wall can help successfully direct water away so it will not increase the weight of the soil behind the wall and push against the retaining wall, advises The Home Depot. Retaining walls serve different purposes in a yard. Building such a wall requires planning and careful execution to ensure the job is done correctly. When contemplating retaining wall projects, a lesson in physics and engineering may be needed.
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